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Hierarchy in the mind: The predictive power of Social Dominance Orientation across social contexts and domains, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


The question of whether social dominance orientation represents a generalized orientation towards group-based hi- erarchies continues to arouse heated debate. Some researchers maintain that rather than indexing support for hier- archy across a variety of situations and social contexts, social dominance orientation scores simply reflect individuals' attitudes towards whatever specific context individuals had in mind while completing the scale. We systematically examine the generality of SDO by investigating its pattern of relationships with a very wide range of variables across a variety of disparate contexts, exploring inequality both as an ideal and as manifested in specific policies towards particular groups. We also experimentally test an important question raised by Sibley and Liu (2010) about whether administration of modified instructions to think only of “groups in general” is required to ensure SDO's generality. Evidence that SDO functions as a generalized orientation only when administered with instructions to think of groups in general would be a cause for much concern among the many researchers who have used the unmodified scale to index such an orientation. As expected, our results are clear in suggesting (a) that SDO represents a gener- alized orientation towards group-based hierarchy, and (b) that this property is not dependent on specific instruc- tions to participants to think only of groups in general. Theoretical and practical implications for the status of SDO are discussed.




Nour Kteily, A. K. Ho, J. Sidanius

Date Published



Kteily, Nour, A. K. Ho, and J. Sidanius. 2012. Hierarchy in the mind: The predictive power of Social Dominance Orientation across social contexts and domains. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.: 543-549.


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